Barbara Paddock, senior vice president, JPMorgan Chase
Barbara Paddock has seen the running industry grow from spectacle to sport since in the late 1970s, when she signed her first sponsorship deal between New York’s Manufacturers Hanover bank and the New York City Marathon. Now a senior vice president at JPMorgan Chase, Paddock talks here about running’s early days as well as the popular JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge events aimed at businesspeople.
Running is this great equalizer, and we find that with the Corporate Challenge. You have CEOs and employees running together.”
About that first NYC Marathon deal: Sponsorship of events had only really taken off in the 1970s, and there wasn’t always a rhyme or reason to it. Our standpoint at Manufacturers Hanover was about driving the brand image. If you saw your logo on the cover of Sports Illustrated, that really meant something. At the same time, it was a chance to engage clients, but things weren’t really sophisticated.
Sponsor activation in the 1970s and ’80s: Everything was very grassroots, but it still depended on your objectives. I remember there was a frozen fruit guy who would stand in the expo handing out fruit bars. I remember one year working with the woman from Perrier; she was so concerned about getting her bottle in the hands of the winner.
On the Corporate Challenge: It was just a gem of an idea coming off of the marathon. Back then we were a regional brand, and we asked ourselves what can we be doing in the business community in New York with running. We created this little nothing event in Central Park the night of the blackout [in 1977], and we had 200 people coming from 50 companies. The mantra was you can’t do it on a weekend, it has to be a weeknight because that is when the corporate community is together. The distance is 3.5 miles because Central Park in the ’70s, you couldn’t run north; it had to be twice around the lower loop. As we went through the [bank’s] mergers … it has remained the DNA of the institution.
Positioning it within the business community: You want to target the business community. You’ll always find someone at those businesses who is a runner, and if you get one person, it takes off.
Did you push to become title sponsor of the NYC Marathon? Yes, and [NYC Marathon founder] Fred Lebow was adamant that they would never, ever put a name in front of the New York City Marathon. … I remember when Perrier asked to be in front on the T-shirt, and he kicked a garbage can across the room and said a sponsor would never be in front on the T-shirt. But, of course, the [New York Road Runners] had to change the way they looked at sponsorships eventually because putting on the race had become so expensive. We weren’t in a position to pursue it at the dollars that they were asking, and by that point our Corporate Challenge events were wildly successful, so we didn’t feel we needed to be with the marathon. We pulled out of a lot of other running events to pursue our own event.